What exactly are chocolates?
Chocolate is a popular food item in the form of liquid, paste, or block. It is prepared by roasting or grounding cacao seeds. It is commonly sweetened and eaten as confectionery and also used as a flavoring ingredient in other food items.
Preparation of chocolates
Chocolate is created from the cocoa beans, the seeds of the cacao tree, or cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao), included in the family of plants named Malvaceae. To make chocolate from cocoa seeds, it requires several steps which needed careful treatment to get the best product.
- Harvesting: The initial step of the chocolate-making is harvesting cacao pods. The green cacao pods turn orange when they are ripe. These ripe pods are cut and thus harvested from the cocoa tree using a machete. Then the cacao beans, which are embedded in a white-colored, moist pulp are scooped out.
- Fermenting: These seeds along with the pulp are placed in large piles or bins, allowing access to microorganisms. Fermentation occurs when the pulp covered cocoa beans are converted into alcohol by the yeasts present in the air. The beans are gently mixed eventually for the oxygen to enter the pile or bin, which transforms the alcohol into the lactic and acetic acid. Then the resulting liquid with its alcohol content leaks out of the pile of beans through the slits or holes in the bin and leaves just the beans. The high temperature resulted during the fermentation destroys the germs present in the cacao beans. These beans are ferments from five to seven days. This process is the first stage in developing the flavor of the chocolate. To clarify, the fermentation process produces several flavor precursors, which in due course, results in the chocolate’s taste.
- Drying: The cacao beans come out of the fermentation process in high moisture content. So, to prevent mold growth and to ship the beans, it should be dried quickly. The cocoa beans are usually dried by spreading them out in the sun from five to seven days. The dried beans are then transferred into sacks and bags and transported to the chocolate manufacturing facilities around the world.
- Testing, cleaning, and roasting: When the selected dried cocoa beans arrive at the manufacturing facility, they a tested for size and defects, such as insects or mold, and then roasted. The process and time of roasting differ from chocolate maker to chocolate maker. Usually, chocolate makers roast them from 10 to 35 minutes.
- Cracking and winnowing: The roasted cocoa beans have a thin shell around them that needs to be removed. So, at this point in this process, we crack open the beans and remove the shell of each one to extract the nibs. Winnowing is this process.
- Grinding and conching: The cocoa nibs are ground and liquefied, which results in the formation of chocolate liquor (Pure chocolate in liquid form). The liquor is further processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter can be extracted from the chocolate liquor using a hydraulic press. Traditionally, the chocolate liquor is transferred into a separate machine called a conch, where it is further refined. This process plays a major role in developing the flavor and smoothness of the chocolate liquor.
- Tempering: It is the controlled process of raising, lowering, and then raising the temperature for crystalizing the chocolate in the required form.
- Molding (If required): To get a finished chocolate bar, it should be poured into molds. Once cooled, the chocolate bar is ready.
Different types of chocolates
1. Dark chocolate: The dark chocolate is the cacao mixture containing fat and sugar. The number of cocoa solids indicates the level of bitterness of the dark chocolate. The semisweet chocolate is dark chocolate that contains fewer cocoa solids and the bittersweet chocolate is dark chocolate that contains more cocoa solids. Dark chocolate is rich in minerals.
2. White chocolate: White chocolate has a similar texture to dark and milk chocolates. But it does not contain cocoa solids that impart a dark color. This chocolate confection contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids also.
3. Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that contains milk solids and condensed milk. It also contains cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa solids.
4. Unsweetened chocolate: Unsweetened chocolate is also known as baking chocolate. This pure form of chocolate contains cocoa solids and also cocoa butter.
Health effects of the chocolate
1. Rich in nutrients.
2. High source of antioxidants.
3. Good for fetal growth as well as development.
4. Prevent heart diseases.
5. protect your skin from the sun.
- Contains a high amount of calories.
- Contains a high amount of caffeine.
- High sugar and lactic acid content.
- Chocolates are bad for cats and dogs.
- The hot chocolate was the first chocolate treat.
- Once, the currency was cacao.
- July 7 is the chocolate day.
- Once, alcohol was made from cacao.